Lynchburg, VA – There’s good news and some bad news from an analysis of Lynchburg’s fair housing market.
The federally mandated report tells city leaders where they’re winning and where they’re losing in the fight for affordable housing.
This overview of fair housing will be presented to city council Tuesday night. It’s the first fair housing report since 1996 the city has seen, and it reveals a lot about the housing health.
It’s a look at Lynchburg’s fair housing heartbeat, and some areas have a stronger pulse than others.
The Hill City has already created a Housing Collaborative, set up to handle any housing issues that arise.
"That’s a group of various individuals in the city that have different involvement with housing throughout the city, whether it’s non-profit groups, realtors," said Kevin Henry, Planner II with Lynchburg’s Community Development Department.
Also, the city’s Comprehensive Plan includes steps to cultivate a better environment for affordable housing, including rezoning parts of the city to allow for higher density housing.
But, according to the analysis, affordable units– those renting for less than $500–are hard to find. And, when you do find them, they’re most likely all in the same neighborhood.
"Allow for folks to go to different parts of the city and use a Section 8 housing voucher in what you would call a higher opportunity area," said Henry.
But right now, the higher opportunity areas like Boonsboro and Timberlake have little to no lower-priced homes. Lynchburg’s average household income can’t afford a house on the market for an average sale price.
On top of that, a minimum-wage worker would have to work 77 hours a week, 52 weeks a year to afford an average-priced apartment.
"It’s important to house those people in some form or fashion because obviously homelessness is the next step if you are not able to afford housing," said Henry.
Tuesday night city council is expected to endorse the analysis, then it will be sent to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Then, in a month or so, Lynchburg’s Housing Collaborative will meet to talk about carrying out some of the recommendations.